This Christmas (John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||November 9, 2012|
|Genre||Christmas, pop, traditional pop|
|Producer||John Farrar, Dave Grusin, Mark Hartley (exec.), Phil Ramone, James Taylor, Randy Waldman|
|Olivia Newton-John chronology|
This Christmas is a Christmas album by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, released on November 9, 2012 by Universal Music Enterprises. The first time that Travolta and Newton-John worked together was on the musical film Grease (1978), which they performed the songs "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights". Both the film and the songs were a commercial phenomenon. This album is the first new artistic work they have done together since the 1983 film Two of a Kind (which features the song "Take a Chance", performed by them). This Christmas is also the twenty-fifth studio album, following the 2008 release A Celebration in Song, and the third all-new Christmas album by Newton-John.
Background and development
In March 2012 Newton-John was interviewed by Malaysian newspaper The Star and was asked when was the last time which she talked with Travolta, her answered: "About a month ago. We’re working on a project together. [...] It’s not about Grease!". In late September the virtual shops of Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com listed an album named This Christmas by Travolta and Newton-John, set to be released on November 13, 2012. Rav Holly, from Rav Media Group, posted on Facebook a photo with Travolta and Newton-John, and stated that the company was making the album photoshoot. An official statement came on October 2, with a post on Olivia's official website and Facebook page.
— Travolta about the album creation process.
According to statement, This Christmas is "the audio equivalent of those classic network TV specials hosted from the stars’ homes, an intimate, warm set of traditional holiday songs [...]". The album producer was the Grammy Award-winner composer Randy Waldman. All tracks are covers of classic Christmas songs, except "I Think You Might Like It", which was targeted as the "You're the One That I Want sequel." The song was written by Newton-John long-time collaborator John Farrar, who also wrote "You're the One That I Want", according to Newton-John: "If it wasn’t for that song, we wouldn’t be here talking about it 30 years later." The album also features the well-known musicians Kenny G, Barbra Streisand, Chick Corea, Cliff Richard, Tony Bennett, Count Basie Orchestra and James Taylor as special guests on some tracks. All of the album tracks were recorded in one take.
The idea from recording an album came when Newton-John sent a Christmas card to Travolta, noting that the songs of Grease become the best-selling duet in pop music history. Travolta commented: "I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t people want to hear us do other songs?’ and immediately came up with the idea of doing a holiday album together. [...] From the moment we decided to do this, magic happened. Everyone we contacted agreed to do it." The two have been good friends since Grease was filmed, and agree to donate the artist proceeds from the album equally to their respective charities, the Jett Travolta Foundation for children's disabilities and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre.
It is the second time that "White Christmas" is featured on a Newton-John album, the first time was on 2003 compilation The Christmas Collection, as a duet with Kenny Loggins and Clint Black. The songs "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (also a duet with Loggins) and "Silent Night" also are featured on this album. Her 2007 album, Christmas Wish, features "Silent Night", as a duet with Jann Arden, and an instrumental interlude version of "Deck the Halls".
This Christmas received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album three out of five stars, felling that "This Christmas winds up serving both audiences equally well: it'll brighten the season of fans who take this at face value, and for those looking for a ridiculous dose of celeb Christmas cheer." Amanda Ash of the Edmonton Journal gave a less positive review, stating "This Christmas is a train wreck would be an understatement. [...] Depressingly devoid of sentiment, Newton-John and Travolta’s duets also sound incredibly awkward." Phil Johnson of The Independent wrote that "If Christmas is a slush-fest, here's your soundtrack", despite "John Travolta might act singing rather than sing." The Guardian writer Caroline Sullivan commented that "The potential for schmaltz here is great, but it bobs along tastefully, even when Cliff Richard turns up". About the vocal performances, she found that "Travolta and Newton-John themselves sound unfeasibly young and earnest, except when they steer 'Baby It's Cold Outside' in a toe-curlingly 'sexy' direction." Josh Nicholson of The Courier stated that "It all seems very lovey-dovey which is what you want from a Christmas album. It’s a bit of a stocking filler for the over-40s though. It’s a good album I admit that, but it’s no Christmas with Dean Martin."
The album debuted at number eighty-one on the Billboard 200, making the first Newton-John's album entry on top 100 since Back with a Heart, which peaked at number fifty-nine in 1998. On December 26, 2012 the album had sold 35,596 in the United States. This Christmas peaked at number thirty-three in Newton-John's native country Australia.
Travolta and Newton-John made several promotional appearances to promote This Christmas in the album release month. They answered questions from fans on the Google Play (December 4) and also were interviewed on Extra (December 4), The Ellen DeGeneres Show (December 5), Australia's Today (December 5), Rove LA (December 6) and Live! with Kelly and Michael (December 19) about the album creation and the Grease phenomenon.
Although no singles were released from the album, a music video for the song "I Think You Might Like It" was released on December 4, 2012. The video was directed by Rav Holly and Corey Molina and received generally negative reviews among music critics and the general public, which criticized the video low-budget production and bad acting. Rolling Stone magazine commented that "the holidays have rarely seemed so sterile." Courtney Hazlett of Today Entertainment called the video "bizarre." Katie Kilkenny of Slate magazine found the video "a new Christmas camp." The Huffington Post gave it a positive review, stating: "There is thumbs-in-the-belt-loops line-dancing, an soul patch on a pocket-chain wearing John Travolta, and a running scene straight out of '10.' All in all, fun for the whole family." According to Billboard, the video was the thirteenth most watched music video on YouTube on week of December 22, 2012, having more than 6 million views in its first week.
Credits and personnel
- Monty Alexander – piano
- Dee Askew – management
- Bernadette Avila – oboe
- Count Basie Orchestra – instruments
- Brian Benison – assistant
- Dae Bennett – engineering, mixing
- Tony Bennett – vocals
- The Tony Bennett Quartet – instruments
- Irving Berlin – composer
- Felix Bernard – composer
- Darwin Best – engineering
- Charlie Bisharat – fiddle, violin
- Gregg Bissonette – drums
- Ralph Blane – composer
- Chris Bleuth – irish whistle
- Dave Boruff – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
- Jacqueline Brand – violin
- Robert Brophy – viola
- Caroline Buckman – viola
- Sammy Cahn – composer
- Teddy Campbell – drums
- Darius Campo – violin
- William Cho – assistant engineer
- The Christmas Horn Section – instruments
- The Christmas Horns – horn
- Heather Clark – flute
- Stuart Clark – clarinet
- Chick Corea – instruments
- Dawn Darling – production coordinator
- Charley Davis – trumpet
- Jill Dell'Abate – management
- Carlos del Puerto – bass
- George Doering – guitar
- Lisa Donglinger – violin
- Bruce Dukov – concertmaster, violin
- Christine Ermacoff – celli
- John Farrar – arranger, composer, guitar, mixing, producer, synthesizer programming
- Sam Farrar – bass, programming
- Brandon Fields – baritone saxophone
- Chuck Findley – trumpet
- Mike Fisher – percussion
- Juliann French – violin
- Kenny G – tenor saxophone
- Kim Gannon – composer
- Larry Goldings – harmonium
- Dave Grusin – arranger, producer
- Vince Guaraldi – composer
- Mark Hartley – executive producer
- Tamara Hatwan – violin
- Chris Hebel – violin
- Anita Heilig – production coordinator
- Dan Higgins – alto saxophone
- Paula Hochhalter – celli
- Rav Holly – photography
- Ray Holzknecht – assistant engineer
- Carrie Holzman – violin
- Bill Hughes – orchestra director
- Harold Jones – drums
- Walter Kent – composer
- Jen Kuhn – celli
- Erick Labson – mastering engineer
- Michael Landau – guitar
- Paul Langosch – bass
- David Lasley – background vocals
- Natalie Leggett – violin
- Gayle Levant – harp
- Frank Loesser – composer
- Timothy Loo – celli
- Shawn Mann – viola
- Kate Markowitz – background vocals
- Johnny Marks – composer
- Hugh Martin – composer
- Bob McChesney – digital editing, trombone
- Arnold McCuller – background vocals
- Nadine McKinnor – composer
- Lee Mendelson – composer
- Jeremy Miller – assistant engineer
- Don Murray – engineering
- Lee Musiker – musical director
- Olivia Newton-John – vocals
- Kenny O'Brien – digital editing
- Robin Olson – violin
- Charlie Paakkari – assistant engineer
- Chas Payson – assistant engineer
- Alessandro Perrotta – assistant engineer
- Jade Perry – hair stylist
- Donnie Pitts – composer
- Carol Pool – violin
- Buck Ram – composer
- Phil Ramone – producer
- Cliff Richard – vocals
- John Robinson – drums
- Ryan Rogers – design
- Anatoly Rosinski – violin
- Marco Ruiz – assistant engineer
- Gray Sargent – guitar
- Dana Sharpe – production coordinator
- Dick Smith – composer
- Tereza Stanislav – violin
- Travis Stefl – assistant engineer
- Barbra Streisand – vocals
- Jule Styne – composer
- James Taylor – arranger, guitar, producer
- JoAnn Tominaga – music contractor, production coordinator
- Mel Tormé – composer
- John Travolta – vocals
- Randy Waldman – arranger, conductor, rhodes piano, horn arrangements, mixing, organ, piano, producer, bass synthesizer
- Bob Wells – composer
- Joe Wolmuth – digital editing
- Woody Woodruff – engineering, mixing
- Aaron Woodward – additional production
- Alwyn Wright – violin
- Christine Wu – digital editing
- Yelena Yegoryan – violin
- Ken Yerke – violin
|Australian Albums Chart||33|
|Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)||195|
|US Billboard 200||81|
|US Holiday Albums||19|
|Australia||November 9, 2012||CD, digital download||Universal Music Enterprises|
|United Kingdom||November 12, 2012||Hip-O Records|
|Canada||November 13, 2012||Universal Music Enterprises|
|France||November 19, 2012||Polydor Records|
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- Ash, Amanda (December 3, 2012). "Album review: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, This Christmas". Edmonton Journal. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
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